What Is a Legal Presumption and Why Does It Matter in Florida?
When you are filing a personal injury case, you have to prove your case. The Defendant-the party you’re suing-doesn’t have to prove anything. If you don’t prove what you need to prove, you lose your case.
What you need to prove depends on what kind of case you’re filing, but as a general rule, you will need some form of evidence to prove every part of your case.
Why a Presumption Helps
A presumption can be a huge benefit to a victim, because it allows you to bypass the requirement of proof. A presumption means you don’t have to put on any evidence to show a given fact–the jury will automatically assume it to be true, or assume it to be a fact that works in your favor.
A Typical Example
Let’s take a typical rear end car accident. In Florida, there is a presumption that a party that rear ends another vehicle, is liable or is at fault for the accident.
That means that if you are rear ended, you don’t have to show that the other party actually did anything wrong, or show how the other party erred–so long as it is shown that the Defendant rear-ended you, the just is allowed to infer, on that fact alone, that the Defendant is liable for the accident
Sometimes presumptions are rebuttable–that is, the fact is assumed to be in your favor at first, but the other party can refute that presumption.
Let’s look at our rear end accident example. Let’s say that it is presumed that the person that rear ended you, was liable for the accident. To refute or challenge that presumption, the Defendant would have to show evidence rebutting it.
So, the Defendant could show that he was hit from behind, or that you stopped in the middle of the road. Whatever the Defendant shows, it is the Defendant that has to make the showing–the Defendant has to “prove” why he or she shouldn’t be held negligent for the accident.
Again, this is rare (and a huge help to accident victims in court) , because normally in a personal injury case, the Defendant doesn’t have to prove much of anything–the victim does. Now, however, it is the Defendant having to demonstrate proof.
Presumptions are used more than you may think. We’ve already discussed the presumption that someone who rear ends you is negligent, but there are other presumptions as well.
For example, there is a presumption that someone who makes or sells a defective product, is liable for injuries caused by the product. There is a presumption that someone whose dog bites you, is responsible for the bite. If a party destroys evidence there may be a presumption that the destroyed evidence would have said or demonstrated something that would have helped the party that needs it.
Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law with any questions you may have about your personal injury case or trial.